Local Entrepreneurs Launch HoodStarter, a New Crowdfunding Website

Categories: Stuff We Like

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HoodStarter founders David Berglund and Justin Ley
HoodStarter, founded by Twin Cities-based entrepreneurs Justin Ley and David Bergland, is the newest addition to the world of online crowdfunding. Whether your neighborhood needs a new business or your new business needs a neighborhood, this Kickstarter-inspired website is here to help.

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Are server-free restaurants the future of the food industry?


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A roundup of the best Twin Cities CSAs

Categories: Stuff We Like

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Hannah Sayle
It's CSA season...

CSA season is on our doorstep and it's time to choose the right share plan. Don't know where to turn for help? Not sure what farm might be a good fit for your needs? Don't even know what CSA stands for? Then keep on reading -- you might learn a thing or two!

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What counts as local in local foods?


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WholeMe: a new grain-free, gluten-free, and seriously full of flavor line of snacks

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Photo courtesy WholeMe
For your breakfast consideration
Do you ever find yourself over-thinking breakfast, desperately seeking the healthiest option and instead landing in food paralysis? Half an hour later you find yourself bleary eyed with a discarded wrapper from a less-than-healthy choice crumpled like so much willpower beside your listless arm.

Bread is bad, meat is murder, are we drinking dairy this week? It's no wonder that we so often end up hitting the McMuffins with a vengeance reserved for someone who owes us money. Luckily, there's a new product in town, the brain child of a lauded local pastry chef and the assistant dean at the University of Minnesota.

We were skeptical of the wholesome, delicious claims, until we opened the bag of WholeMe cereal. Now, we're logging onto their Kickstarter and manically hitting "refresh." 

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Zen Box Izakaya brings worldly inspiration to ramen

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John Ng
Special ramen
The Ramen Attacks lines were epic. By some accounts, people waited, with varying degrees of patience, for over four hours to get a bowl of those coveted noodles.

At Zen Box Izakaya the winter wait time has been reduced drastically. Chef and owner John Ng just returned from a culinary tour of Japan along with his wife and front-of-house manager, Lina Goh. The two were inspired by all the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes, and this weekend, Ng will share some of those flavors with ramen fans at his restaurant.

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Meet the Wisconsin micro-distillery Minnesota distillers cite as their inspiration

Categories: Stuff We Like
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courtesy 45th Parallel
45th Parallel's Border Bourbon
Paul Werni has learned how to spot them: the people who come to him with the dream of opening up a micro-distillery of their own.

On tours, they're the ones who ask a lot of questions. After the tour is over, they approach Werni and ask even more.

"I had a gentleman come out here this week from the Twin Cities," Werni says. "And I get calls almost every week now."

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COVER: Local Spirits: Meet the micro-distillers who are making craft liquor the Twin Cities' new industry
The 14 open and opening Minnesota micro-distilleries to look out for


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Froz Broz ice cream to hold its first pint sale

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Joy Summers
Froz Broz ice cream finally for sale

Minneapolis craft ice cream Froz Broz has garnered a solid fan base in the last few years -- even though previously the only way to get your mitts on some was to win one of the two precious pints they give away each week.

But starting next week there are easier ways to attain these frozen, gourmet delights. If you've got a letch for flavors like charred vanilla, rosemary lemon, or fennel pollen, you can head down to the commercial kitchen space at City Food Studio on Saturday, January 18 for the first Froz Broz pint sale.

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Q&A: FrozBroz Erik Powers and Ben Solberg

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Joy Summers
Erik Powers and Ben Solberg, otherwise known as the FrozBroz
Every Thursday, ice cream lovers in the know log onto their computers and hope that it's their week to get lucky. Once a week FrozBroz Ice Cream holds a contest to give away two of their precious pints of ice cream. Made with fresh cream and local eggs, each pint is crafted into a wonderful dense scoop of incredibly rich, luscious ice cream. The flavors are unconventional to say the least: almond, green anise with fig, cranberry with apple cider, cognac caramel, and  hazelnut mocha with whiskey caramel. Owners Erik Powers and Ben Solberg are clearly working beyond Ben or Jerry's wildest dreams.

The pair's dedication to making high-quality, small-batch, flavor-forward ice creams began with an ice cream maker and a friendly challenge to see who could make a better batch. What began as a lark, grew into an obsession. Soon, Powers and Solberg were staying up late, poring over flavors and cultivating a legion of rabid fans. As they continue to test and retest each flavor and texture combination, it's like listening to two vintners developing wine. Flavors bloom, transform as they age, and the two work at drawing out subtle nuances from each ingredient.

The problem for fans of FrozBroz is that these coveted pints have never been available for sale. But with a brick-and-mortar FrozBroz location in the works, that is about to change.

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Top 10 donuts in the Twin Cities

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The rest of America may run on Dunkin', but we like our donuts local
For those of you who were in valiant pursuit of a better beach body this year, you're officially out of the woods with this most recent cold snap; for those of you who weren't, as you were. The season of indulgence kicks off somewhere right around now, and when it comes to treats, nothing satisfies quite like a donut: part cake, part fry, part pure, unadulterated sugar. You take it easy. We've taken the work out of scouting the best shops around town for your glazed, filled, or frosted needs -- from the classic to the experimental. Sit back and sink your teeth into our roundup of the Twin Cities' 10 best donuts.

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Whistler Soda: "Bring back the soda of the '50s, '60s, and '70s"

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Courtesy Whistler Soda
Root Beer made the old-fashioned way from Whistler Soda
It's always sort of a novelty when you go to places like Brasa, La Loma, or Gorkha Palace and they have Mexican Coke in a bottle. It's impossible not to order one of these sodas for at least two good reasons: First, pure cane sugar soda tastes way better. Second, there's just something fun and classic about drinking from a glass bottle. 

There's a budding local company that totally understands this nostalgic experience and wants to bring it, and all its eco-friendly qualities, to the Twin Cities. Whistler Soda makes small-batch soda in classic flavors like root beer, grape, and black cherry -- a return to the real, honest-to-goodness flavors of yore.

But what really sets Whistler apart is their plan to bring back the returnable bottle. The Hot Dish chatted with Whistler's owner Jesse Hopkins about how the program works, the Kickstarter campaign they've launched, and when they're aiming to be on the market.

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Sociable Cider Werks on beer, a bocce ball court, and when they'll be open

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Courtesy Sociable Cider Werks
Building is still a "werk" in progress, but Sociable will be brewing soon
Craft beer is still a booming business in the Twin Cities, but with our reputation for producing America's most popular apple varieties, like Honeycrisp, Zestar, and SweeTango, it's also a natural fit for a craft cider house. 

"For whatever reason, craft cider is big on the coasts," explains Jim Watkins, co-owner of the upcoming Sociable Cider Werks."But for the most part if you want to buy a cider here, you're buying it from a macro brewery whether you know it or not." 

Watkins and co-owner Wade Thompson are aiming to change that by opening Minnesota's very first hard cider brewery and taproom. The Hot Dish caught up with Watkins to learn more about what makes their cider so appealing to beer drinkers, the beauty of keeping things small, and when they plan to get brewing.

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